How to elope without offending your loved ones

Story highlights

  • There are many reasons to consider elopement, but they all call for some etiquette
  • Consider hiring a photographer and videographer so loved ones can share the moment
  • If you have some flexibility on dates, you can ask vendors for discounts
  • It's still your wedding, so don't feel the need to downplay your excitement

Is the idea of a big bridal bash just not your thing? Or perhaps you and your fiancé are just the super spontaneous type, so why not make your next beach vacation your nuptials as well? If you're thinking of eloping but have questions on the mind, we're here to help. We tapped elopement and wedding planner Lindsey Nickel, founder of Events, Etc., for her top dos and don'ts for getting hitched on the sly.

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Do: Prepare Yourself for Family and Close Friends' Reactions

The most difficult part of eloping is the fear that your friends and family will be disappointed they were not a part of your big day. "Know that not everyone is going to support your decision, and be prepared for their reactions," says Nickel.

"I recommend telling your parents before you elope to minimize hurt feelings and surprises after the fact. And try to find a way to involve your closest friends and family somehow — whether that's sharing photos with them first, hosting a post-marriage reception, or even inviting your parents to your elopement if you're not set on it just being the two of you. Remember, shocking your closest friends and family with a social media announcement is a huge no-no: Make sure to tell them in person and if anyone feels hurt or left out, a handwritten note can go a long way."

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Don't: Forget to Take Care of All the Legal Details

Thinking of running away to Europe to elope? Don't forget to swing by your local city hall first. "Make sure you check off everything on the legal to-do list," says Nickel. "Remember, you still need an officiant and a witness to be legally married in the U.S. And many countries have different residency requirements in order to be married there (officially), so don't forget to get your marriage certificate at home before you jet off."

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Do: Hire a Local Planner, Photographer, and Videographer

Just because you're having an intimate wedding doesn't mean you're completely on your own. "While many elopements, by nature, tend to be last minute decisions, I highly advise couples not just to wing it. Hiring a local wedding planner can take a lot of stress off the couple," says Nickel.

"Plus a planner can suggest really special or under-the-radar places that you might not already know. Also, make sure you hire both a photographer and a videographer to document your day. This is especially important for elopements because it allows you to share the moment with friends and family who could not be there."

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Don't: Be Afraid to Ask Vendors for Special Pricing

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Due to the smaller scale and shorter time commitments, most vendors will offer special rates or à la carte pricing for elopements, says Nickel. "Especially if you're getting married on an off-day — say a Tuesday at 11 a.m. — don't be afraid to negotiate."

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Do: Send a Marriage Announcement

Send a marriage announcement after your elopement, advises Nickel. "Some people might be wondering what happened to your engagement or if they're getting a save-the-date soon. A marriage announcement lets people know that you've already gotten hitched and it's the perfect opportunity to showcase some of those gorgeous intimate photos you captured on your special day."

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Don't: Downplay Your Elopement

Just because you're eloping doesn't mean that the day isn't special — it's still your wedding and there is reason to be excited and celebrate. "Don't forget to indulge in the bridal aspects of your day," says Nickel. "Get a special dress and a bouquet and perhaps even set up a table, complete with your dream centerpiece and a bottle of champagne for dinner for two."

Did you elope, and if so, was it the right decision? Let us know in the comments below.